Changemakers

Speakers Series

Presented by President Philip Steenkamp

Thought-provoking ideas.
Original speakers.
Virtual events.

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We will explore the complex challenges facing humanity and innovative ideas about how we might solve them. These ideas are even more relevant as we consider living with, and looking beyond, COVID-19. These talks are for students, professionals, alumni and concerned citizens.

These are ideas for everyone, accessible everywhere and free to attend.

Previous Speakers

Esi Edugyan

Bestselling Canadian novelist Esi Edugyan writes richly imagined and impeccably researched stories that illuminate complicated truths about race and belonging. The first Black woman to win the Scotiabank Giller Prize, Edugyan grew up the child of immigrant Ghanian parents in Calgary, AB. Though it starts as a take on the antebellum novel, Edugyan describes her book Washington Black as having a post-slavery narrative. Washington Black was named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times and was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize and would go on to land the author her second Giller Prize. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

On May 6, 2021, Esi Edugyan joined Royal Roads University President Philip Steenkamp to discuss her book, Washington Black, her research and the themes within her work.

Watch Recording

Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon

Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon holds a University Research Chair in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo. Born in Victoria, British Columbia, he received his BA in political science from Carleton University in 1980 and his PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A widely sought-after speaker, Dr. Homer-Dixon’s books include The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization, which won Canada’s 2006 National Business Book Award, and The Ingenuity Gap, which won the 2001 Governor General’s Non-fiction Award.

On September 16, renowned speaker, author and professor Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon led us through the challenging global landscape to the brink of despair – and then shows us how we have the power to save the world over Facebook Live.

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Autumn Peltier

Chief Water Commissioner for the Anishinabek Nation and RRU Honorary Degree Recipient, Spring 2022

Autumn Peltier first caught the world’s attention at a 2016 Assembly of First Nations when at age 12 she admonished Prime Minister Trudeau for the choices he made for her people. To this day, she holds him to his promise: “I will protect the water.” While her journey since has taken her to the world stage including the UN, garnering her many prestigious awards and landing her Macleans 2021 Power List Top 50, her path has not been easy. Facing racism and stereotyping, Peltier presses on, inspiring youth and adults alike by modelling how a young First Nations woman can make a difference by being a passionate advocate to a cause like hers to protect water.

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Monique Gray Smith

Monique Gray Smith is a proud mom of teenage twins and an award-winning, best-selling author. Her first published novel, Tilly: A Story of Hope and Resilience won the 2014 Canadian Burt Award for First Nation, Métis and Inuit Literature. Since then, Monique has had 7 books come out that cover a broad spectrum of ages, topics and emotions. Woven into all of Monique’s writing, speaking engagements and online courses is the teaching that Love is Medicine. Monique’s novel, Tilly and the Crazy Eights was longlisted for Canada Reads 2021. She is currently writing the Young Adult Adaptation of Braiding Sweetgrass, by Robin Wall Kimmerer, with a November 2022 release date. Also coming out in Fall 2022 is a picture book, I Hope with Orca Book Publishers. She is an appointed member of the Board of Directors of Royal Roads University and the Minister’s Advisory Council for Indigenous Women for the Government of BC and an elected Board member for the Victoria Native Friendship Centre.

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Lucy Suchman

Lucy Suchman is Professor Emerita of the Anthropology of Science and Technology at Lancaster University in the UK. Before taking up that post she was a Principal Scientist at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), where she spent twenty years as a researcher. The author of Human-Machine Reconfigurations (2007), her current research extends a longstanding critical engagement with the fields of artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction to the domain of contemporary militarism. She is concerned with the question of whose bodies are incorporated into military systems, how and with what consequences for social justice and the possibility for a less violent world. In 2010 she received the ACM SIGCHI Lifetime Research Award and in 2014 the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) Bernal Prize for Contributions to the Field. She was President of the Society for Social Studies of Science from 2015-2017.

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Gwynne Dyer

Gwynne Dyer has worked as a freelance journalist, columnist, broadcaster and lecturer on international affairs for more than 20 years, but he was originally trained as a historian. Born in Newfoundland, he received degrees from Canadian, American and British universities, finishing with a PhD in Military and Middle Eastern History from the University of London. He served in three navies and held academic appointments at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and Oxford University before launching his twice-weekly column on international affairs. He is also the recipient of an honourary degree from Royal Roads (2002).

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Dr. Bonnie Henry

Dr. Bonnie Henry was appointed as Provincial Health Officer for the Province of BC in 2018. As BC’s most senior public health official, Dr. Henry is responsible for monitoring the health of all British Columbians and undertaking measures for disease prevention and control and health protection. Most recently, Dr. Henry has led the province’s response on the COVID-19 pandemic and drug overdose emergency. Dr. Henry’s experience in public health, preventative medicine and global pandemics has extended throughout her career.

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Changemakers Wanted

Diverse, dynamic and interesting speakers and topics lead to more changemaking conversations.

While the pandemic may have changed our plans, the spirit of the series, bringing exciting speakers to south Vancouver Island and to our community around the world, remains intact.

Who do you think is making change? Send us your thoughts on future speakers to invite to this series.

Send us your Ideas